Being a parent is not easy, it’s true. But after pining for a third child for a few years now, after two miscarriages and being 11 months into a new relationship with the most perfectly suited partner, my wish will be granted at the end of this month. The difference from my other births is that this will be my first son, and, my first homebirth. Yes, I will be planning more
Unfortunately, the details of my eldest daughter’s birth are rather vague in my memory. Eleven years is a long time and I was only 18 years old myself. I remember having bad back and coccyx pain most of the day, I simply walked it off. But by 8-9pm It was decided to get the midwife over for a check. I was about 9cms dilated by 9:30pm on September 18th 2000. By 1:04am I was cradling my firstborn, who emerged two weeks early at 6lb 13.5oz.
Most of what happened in between is a blur. I remember in-laws driving me to the hospital… the bumps, ouch, I definitely those bumps in the road… the next thing I remember was feeling sick from the first taste of gas and air. Then it kicked in and NOONE was gonna take it off me! I attempted to give birth on all fours, but I was so tired by then I can’t for the life of me remember if I did, or if I lay normally on the bed. I remember my ex husband not being very helpful though.
When she was finally out, I remember almost passing out. I was in a serene place, warm, yellow and from a distance, I was being told to wake up. But I liked my new found happy place! Reluctantly I came around and I was handed my daughter, who at 11 years old is quite the mathematician. She’s over a year ahead in her maths group. But, she has that first born temperament and has started talking back to me. Of course being flooded with the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (it’s what’s makes a pregnancy test positive) and other mood altering hormones women are feared for, I don’t take her attitude lightly.
My second birth in 2005 was different. Firstly I did not have the space to pace about in my wee one bedroomed flat like I had back in Wales. I survived by walking round to my mums house and around the neighbourhood, being comforted by close ones. Up in Scotland however, I had to deal with this stuff alone. Yeah I had my partner at the time, but it wasn’t until I was 6 months pregnant that he became interested in the pregnancy.
I was in the early stages of labour from about lunchtime on the 27th March, but it wasn’t until about 10pm I admitted I couldn’t handle it. Probably due to lack of pacing space as I mentioned before. I remember being in a ward this time, strapped up to a monitor at about 12am as I was only 3 cms dilated. My then partner was told to go home to sleep as the baby wasn’t going to come soon. So I was all alone, in a hospital ward, drifting in and out of sleep, secretly texting the father as I wasn’t allowed my phone on, but I felt so goddamned alone. I think that intensified most of the pain.
At around 6am, I woke up having major contractions, my back arching with each one. I was about 7-8cms by now and yet the nurses let me lay there in agonising loneliness until about half past seven when I was moved up to the labour suite. At 8am, I was nearly fully dialated and they finally said they were going to call my child’s father. The pain was unbearable, gas and air wasn’t taking the edge off as I was so tense, so alone… I begged for something extra and at I got a syringe full of something that made me care a little less about the pain so I could focus on my job.
The next half an hour happened fast. My ex partner arrived, the meds kicked in, I relaxed enough that my cervix fully opened and I pushed my second daughter into the world before breakfast. She was only a day early but she weighed a wee 6lb 6oz. No wonder I argued with the staff that it was ok for me to push, she was like a wee doll. So very tiny!
Roll on End of December!
This time, I don’t want to be scared. I don’t want to be away from people I love. I don’t want to be in a clinical environment. I want to feel safe, secure and loved. I want to be listened to, to be free to cope with the pain any way I can, and that’s why I decided on a homebirth. Also because I can’t get a member of family to look after the kids at the drop of a hat, although my neighbour is there if some emergency crops up and I need hospital treatment, But I am quite confident that I can do this.
I’ve been reading up on pre-natal hypnotherapy, letting go of my fears, renaming certain things – pain is now pressure, contractions are now surges, labour is now birthing. Hypnobirthing may sound quite out there but it’s not about being hypnotised, it’s about meditation. Focusing on relaxing and letting my womb and pelvic floor do its job rather than tensing up and trying to push.
Ever tried to use a cramped muscle? Yes. Ouch is the word. The secret is to stretch out the abdomen with deep slow belly breaths. No clenched jaws or fists, just dealing with each wave that will bring baby closer. Stretching out the belly will stop the cramp aching and the deep breathing will get the oxygenated blood to that muscle where it can do the most efficient work, instead of being diverted to other clenched muscles.
Then when I’m still focused on keeping relaxed and it’s time for any pushing, I’ll use a different type of breathing. I read somewhere that it’s similar to having a relaxed poo! Yes, relax everything down there, focus on those deep muscles and bare down on the out-breath. Don’t push like you’re constipated though, just let the baby emerge slowly.
Ok, that is the theory anyway. We shall see if I actually manage it. I can’t have any morphine based drugs, just gas and air and paracetamol. But seeing as I’m already able to stretch out braxton hick surges with the breathing technique, my confidence is growing more every day that I can do this.
A right of passage, without this modern fear of pain being stirred up. Be a man and deal with it! Or rather, be a woman and breathe with it!
In love and light,